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3 Rebels sign letters of intent

Subheadline: 
Mixson, Shaffer, Hexamer set for football’s next level

  • Anthony Garzilli/Jasper County Sun Times Thomas Heyward football standouts Bret Mixson, left, Trey Shaffer and Spencer Hexamer signed letters of intent to play in college. They are pictured with coaches Taylor Malphrus, Nic Shuford and Leon Etheridge. Mixson and Shaffer will play at NAIA Kentucky Christian University and Hexamer signed with NCAA Division II North Greenville University.
  • Anthony Garzilli/Jasper County Sun Times Thomas Heyward football standouts Bret Mixson, left, Trey Shaffer and Spencer Hexamer signed letters of intent to play in college. Mixson and Shaffer will play at NAIA Kentucky Christian University and Hexamer signed with NCAA Division II North Greenville University.
  • Anthony Garzilli/Jasper County Sun Times Thomas Heyward football stars Bret Mixson, left, Trey Shaffer and Spencer Hexamer signed letters of intent to play in college. They are pictured with Russell and Anita Mixson, Leon Etheridge and Brandy and Nathan Hexamer.
  • Anthony Garzilli/Jasper County Sun Times Bret Mixson with his parents Russell and Anita Mixson.
  • Anthony Garzilli/Jasper County Sun Times Bret Mixson with his parents Russell and Anita Mixson and coaches Taylor Malphrus, Nic Shuford and Leon Etheridge.
  • Anthony Garzilli/Jasper County Sun Times Spencer Hexamer with his parents Brandy and Nathan Hexamer.
  • Anthony Garzilli/Jasper County Sun Times Trey Shaffer with coaches Taylor Malphrus, Nic Shuford and Leon Etheridge.
  • Anthony Garzilli/Jasper County Sun Times Spencer Hexamer with Taylor Malphrus, Nic Shuford, Brandy and Nathan Hexamer and Leon Etheridge.

Football will continue for three Thomas Heyward standouts.

Bret Mixson, Trey Shaffer and Spencer Hexamer have signed letters of intent to play in college. Mixson and Shaffer will play for NAIA Kentucky Christian University, and Hexamer is headed to NCAA Division II North Greenville University.

Thomas Heyward held a signing ceremony Tuesday afternoon.

“They’re the epitome of hard work paying off,” THA coach Nic Shuford said. “All three of them worked their tails off in the weight room, getting extra reps on the field. They just worked extremely hard.”

Mixson and Shaffer caught Kentucky Christian’s eye during a March combine at Ashley Ridge High in Summerville.

After showcasing their receiver (Mixson) and lineman (Shaffer) skills, it didn’t take long for the THA teammates to hear from the Knights’ coaching staff.

Kentucky Christian, which started its football program in 2008, is an eight-hour drive from Ridgeland, but its enrollment (550 students), average class size (14 students per class) and small-town feel in Grayson, Ky., (population: 4,105) appeals to Mixson and Shaffer.

“It just basically feels like home,” said Shaffer, who plans to major in accounting.

Mixson, who will study physical therapy, said the distance from home will be made easier having a friend joining him.

“It’s nice to have someone up there I know,” he said.

Hexamer, a running back, receiver and safety, said he feels comfortable with North Greenville’s coaches. He has family in the area and garnered some insight about the program from THA assistant Taylor Malphrus, who played at North Greenville.

“I like the facilities, it’s a Christian school,” said Hexamer, who plans to study sports management.

Hexamer, who ran for 201 yards and three touchdowns last season, said he’s worked out each day at Thomas Heyward in preparation for the jump to a higher level of competition.

He looks forward to the challenge.

“It’s going to be a lot faster paced,” Hexamer said.

Shuford said Mixson, who had 25 receptions and three TDs last season, should quickly get acclimated to KCU because the team runs a spread offense, similar to THA’s.

“It’s very similar to what we do,” Shuford said. “From a receiver standpoint, he’ll jump right in.”

Shuford said KCU is also an ideal spot for Shaffer, who had 24 tackles and two sacks last season.

“The small school is huge for Trey,” he said. “It’s a perfect fit.”

Hexamer battled an assortment of injuries last season, but Shuford said he never complained and wanted to stay on the field. He said Hexamer will have a chance to excel because of his toughness and versatility.

“He can do so many different things,” Shuford said. “The coaching staff is going to really enjoy having the luxury of a guy who can do so many different things. And he battled all kinds of injuries. But he refused to miss practice or a game. His heart and determination won out.”

Last year lineman Al “Tank” Boni signed to play for NCAA Division II Newberry College. Shuford said the recent signings show THA is committed to helping the athletes pursue their goals.

“We definitely have the best interests of the kids in mind,” Shuford said. “If they have aspirations to play at the next level, we’ll do what we can to make that happen.”

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